Crop burning going unchecked in Punjab despite smog risks: Zartaj

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Islamabad: Zartaj Gul, climate change minister, said Monday that despite the smog, incineration of crop residues in Punjab is continuing because no agency is following the situation.

She said: “I recently travelled on motorway from Dera Ghazi Khan to Islamabad where the stubble burning is going on without any restriction.”

She addressed the conference on adaptation to climate change as an important guest.
Zartaj said the previous regime overlaps institutions, hampering their effectiveness and ability to deal with problems like smog. Smoke is not a one-day phenomenon, but it develops over time.

She regrets that there is weak coordination between experts and farmers in the academic world, which is directly influenced by climate change.

She added that in the current smoky season no expert can advise on the problem and Lahore has been seriously affected by air pollution because 70% of trees have been felled in the last 15 years.

The minister said AirVisual came to me and the minister refused to buy the air purification equipment I refused to buy, but it caused a sensation and cry in the media due to false data predicted by Wagha’s 1200USAQI and the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPD) of 350 AQI). She added that the 1200 USAQI reported by AirVisual has never happened in the world.

She said the company has succeeded in selling its air purifiers in public due to the panic caused by AirVisual data to Lahore.

“We are over polluted, populated and urbanized country where we have to tackle climate change within the available limited resources with increased number of population,” said Zartaj Gul.

She said we need to mobilize academics, experts, and researchers to contact basic level farmers to provide farmers with the latest information and technical practices to grow climate-resilient crops.

She added that Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched the Clean Green Pakistan Index in 19 cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to launch the public. Behaviour is changing to improve Pakistan’s health.

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